If you want to write a fantasy novel but are unsure how or where to begin, this article is here to help.
Below you’ll find fantasy book ideas and prompts based on key elements of fantasy genre.
To get started, understand that one of the most effective ways to get your creative juices is to brainstorm plot ideas. Fortunately, we’ve included plenty of story ideas below from which you can take inspiration.
Still, don’t be afraid to take a sheet of paper and write down your ideas to build your fictional world.
Use the fantasy writing prompts and plot ideas below for inspiration but make sure to add your own personal touch.
Fantasy book ideas
Writing a fantasy book can be an enjoyable but challenging experience. If you’re an avid fantasy reader, you’ll understand that this is one of the most complex genres to write.
The genre is full of clichés and common elements, and writers need to understand them, use them with caution, and not indulge. Such is the creative aspect of writing.
There are millions of fantasy stories written; can you make yours original?
Below we’ve included a list of fantasy writing prompts, story ideas, and ways of using common fantasy elements in your story to help you write an original piece that aligns with the genre.
Fantasy story ideas and fantasy writing prompts
Let the fantasy fiction writing prompts and ideas below inspire your next story. We’ve included rough titles for the plot ideas, but you’re free to choose your own.
A portal exists between our world and the underworld. It has always existed, but no human has ever discovered it. A cave diver strayed from the expedition team stumbles across the portal and swims through it. He sees magical beings as soon as he crosses over.
A young boy wakes up in the middle of the night while everyone else in the house remains asleep. Hungry, he goes to the kitchen for a snack. He notices a bright light around the door to the basement and decides to investigate. When he opened the door, an alternative universe was beyond the threshold.
After her mother passes away, a young woman visits the family home to clear it out. Days pass by as she organizes her mother’s possessions, deciding to keep some, donate some, and throw others away. Eventually, she finds an old dusty book.
The book contains spells of ancient magic. Not the superstitious type, the woman recites some of the spells in the book, only to find that magic really does exist.
The Only One
A knight has been revoked of his status for rebelling against the King. For most of his time in service he has been a loyal knight and saved the kingdom on many occasions. As such, when he refuses to kill an innocent civilian on the grounds of suspected treason, he is stripped of his title.
Even then, he was allowed to live on the outskirts of the kingdom at the King’s mercy. When the princess is kidnapped, and the kidnappers have used their magic to cast a forgetting spell on the kingdom, only a single person can save her – the banished knight.
Dragons are an endangered species. Poachers hunt them for their scales and claws and sell them on the black market. Villagers want them dead because rogue dragons are bad for livestock, except for a dragon conservationist protecting these deeply misunderstood creatures from extinction.
One day, they overhear that the poachers are approaching the village, set on extracting the last dragon resources in existence. The villagers are also coming, intending to kill the last remaining dragons once and for all.
One Halloween night, children in costumes call on neighbors for candy. They visit all the houses on the street but one, the eerie, forlorn house at the end of the street. The teens in the neighborhood don’t want candy and make a fun evening of throwing eggs at houses.
They throw an entire carton of eggs at the house at the end of the street, as well as toilet paper and empty bottles. Their mischievous behavior angers the old woman, the resident of the house.
Unbeknownst to the neighborhood, the old woman is a witch. Having lost her temper with the community around her, she casts a spell that turns the town’s children into their costumes.
(If you want to add humor, consider that one of the children was dressed as a roll of toilet paper.)
A witch is about to be burned at the stake. As the executioner lights the fire, the sky opens, and lightning strikes those around. Write about days leading up to the burning and explore what happens after the lightning.
A blacksmith forges a sword with magic metal. Anyone who uses the sword gains mighty powers, but with responsibilities. One can fight demons, dragons, and evil spirits with the sword, but if it’s used on a civilian, the swordsman experiences the same injury.
A team of archaeologists on an excavation discover ancient fossils – large, human-shaped skeletons with wings three times the size of the average person.
A short story writer keeps meeting people who remind him of characters from his short stories. He decides to start writing a new main character with the sole purpose of testing his suspicions. Sure enough…
In the distant future, artificial intelligence has advanced exponentially. Information arises that a cyborg species will bring forth a new artificial consciousness. This new creation is the digital messiah who will destroy the old world and make way for the new.
A little girl often swims in the lake near her house. This time, after she re-emerged from the water, her environment changed completely—the trees, the mountains in the background, the outline of her house, all gone. Instead, the grass around her is taller than she’s ever seen. The colors of the flora are vibrant, unlike the plants she’s used to, and mythical creatures, unlike any other, scuttle around the edge of the lake and fly in the orange sky above.
How to use fantasy elements in your story
Readers love and remember stories that feature these elements because they define the genre, setting them apart from others.
Use these elements effectively if you want to write a fantasy story that readers will love.
The setting is significant in the fantasy genre.
The most well-known and loved fantasy novels stand out for their immersive and magical worlds. In literature, the creation of a setting is known as world-building.
If you want to write a fantasy novel, then you need to build an immersive world. You must offer the reader a setting where they can place the story’s events.
Consider the significance of Westeros in George RR. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series or the Shire in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.
These settings are some of the most memorable worlds in the fantasy genre and literature in general.
One effective and immersive way to use settings is to create multiple settings that contrast each other.
The Shire is a peaceful, harmonious setting. At the same time, Mount Doom is dark, eerie, and dangerous. This contrast helps readers understand the feelings and mindset of the characters within the story.
Fantasy setting prompts
You can combine science fiction themes with fantasy writing prompts to come up with compelling stories.
- An ancient underground world, previously undiscovered by humans, is discovered by a team of archaeologists.
- Deep beneath the sea lies the remains of an ancient city. When a huge earthquake hits, the human-amphibian residents of the water world are awoken.
- A kingdom’s defense strategy fails to protect it from evil powers that cause destruction every few centuries. A king keen to serve his people calls on a witch to cast a protective spell that makes the kingdom invisible to anyone on the outside.
Character development is a common starting point for fantasy authors.
When you have a strong idea for a character, it’s easier to create the world and story plot around that character. Without a strong character idea, you may find yourself frustrated with your plot’s progress.
A good character hooks the reader. A human brain is an empathy machine, and an engaging character makes us want to learn more about their life and circumstances.
An effective way to create an interesting character is to start them in one world, setting, or perspective, shake up the norm and immerse them in a new world, a new adventure.
Fantasy character ideas
- A young, humble farm boy finds an ancient and magical flower in the woods.
- An orphan discovers that he has inherited magical powers from his ancestors.
- A wizard cast out of his community for using dark magic seeks redemption through a different timeline.
- A high school student possesses great powers of destruction and violence but must learn to contain her power if she wants to live a normal life.
Most great fantasy stories feature a magic system – some source of magic and rules and limits around its usage.
Writing fantasy magic systems is no easy feat. It takes time, diligence, and an incredible amount of imagination to craft a system that works.
Given that we don’t have any magic systems in this world, you’ll have to create your own. Feel free to take inspiration from existing systems in fantasy literature, but don’t make any carbon copies.
Magic system ideas
- Ancient Gods have the power to influence the weather based on human behavior and quality of worship.
- The source of magic is a deep well located in a young family’s back garden, who have absolutely no knowledge of the well’s power.
- A section of text has been omitted from a world’s major religion by its authorities. The text contains guidelines for living a magical life, but such information threatens the religious organization’s control of the population, so they hide it.
- Modern science claims that the moon does not have and does not grant mystical powers. That’s true for most people. However, the moon is incredibly magical for the residents of small coastal towns.
Great fantasy stories often feature power structures or systems that serve as antagonists.
Consider the Magisterium in Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass or the Dark Lord Sauron in Lord of the Rings. These power structures are oppressive and play a key role in plot development.
So, how do you write a good (or evil) power system or structure?
It’s helpful to draw from existing, real-world circumstances.
Consider a political decision or system that lacks compassion or a famous figure from history.
When writing a story, take inspiration from these real-world authorities and powers.
- A god.
- An oppressive religious order.
- A vengeful dark wizard.
- Parents (the power structure doesn’t have to be evil, just as long as it plays that role for the protagonist!).
- A field of energy, or a person/character who manipulates it.
Writing fantasy is one of the most excellent exercises in creative writing you can undertake.
‘A good story is a good story no matter who wrote it.’Anne McCaffrey
Fantasy story writing, though challenging to the imagination, is also enriching.
To go from a basic story idea to a final draft and see the world you’ve imagined come to life is an experience unlike any other.
Hopefully, the plot ideas and fantasy writing prompts we’ve included above will stir your creativity and help you take the next step on your author’s journey into producing an awesome story.